Maybe I should go Amish

Oh iPhone, oh iPhone, why do you burn through your battery so? You were fine just a few days ago. What have I done anger you in this way? I swear, all I did on Friday was download one app to help my nephew with his Flat Stanley project for school.

A visit to the Genius Bar at “Steve’s Store” suggested that the problem was more likely hardware than software. I tried doing what the fellow there suggested; restore the system from backup to clean out any software that is stuck or settings that may be bad. So far, that’s proved fruitless.

In my mad dash to make the appointment (parents of toddlers seem to so rarely be on time for anything), I lost the soft case for my Ray-Ban Sunglasses (from Costco). It fell out of my pocket. Now I down both an iPhone and useful case for my sunglasses.

Perhaps I should just go Amish. Hats. Beards. Mighty fine barns. Somehow I don’t think the wife will go for that.

Not my best moment

I shared this with a few folks on FB earlier today, and I thought I’d preserve it here:

I gave Baby G. a grilled cheese sandwich and a few tater tots for dinner tonight. We were both tired, him from a a nap strike yesterday and me, from well, everything. All went well until I turned my back, he got hold of the salt shaker, and suddenly there was a white coating of salt all over his food, all over the table, and starting to work its way to the floor. Even as I said “Baby G. Stanley Cornelius! What are you doing!” too loudly and anxiously, I could hear my mother’s recent advice: “don’t yell at him, he doesn’t know any better”. And really, I wasn’t yelling at him, because she’s right, he doesn’t know any better. If I was yelling at anyone, it was at me for leaving the salt shaker within his reach. He didn’t know that… a for a few minutes, he started to cry. It was but a moment, but not one of my best.

They say that life is what happens while you are waiting for your plans to come true. Today feels like parenting is what happens while you are waiting to get some more sleep.

Guns, not butter

I have friends or loved ones on every side of the gun debate that is raging in our country right now.  Mrs. Geek is convinced that no one in a civilized society (outside the military) should need a gun with a fire rate of 15 rounds per minute (such as the AR-15.)  My Ph.D. dissertation adviser and his sons apparently think every American should be issued a gun along with a birth certificate and if you can’t defend yourself against bad people, that’s your problem.   A high school friend (and Second Iraq War veteran) vigorously defends the right to keep firearms in the home, even after she and her ex-spouse both had to be removed from the home they shared at the time in handcuffs because they’d pulled out hand guns on each other during a domestic dispute.  Myself, my ideas about guns sit closer to those of my wife than the others, so there are some things about the pro-gun side of the debate that do not make sense to me.

Buying guns should not be like buying groceries.  It’s not “criminal persecution of the innocent” to not be able to say “honey, I’ll go down to the store to get some milk, some bread, and that new automatic pistol you like.”  It’s not a baseball bat or a kitchen knife.  These things have other legitimate uses, wholly unrelated to their ability to cause harm to another human being.  A gun is made to shoot at objects, animals, or people.  Period.  Is it so unreasonable to ask that (at minimum) we have the same sorts of mechanisms in place to handle guns as we do to handle cars (e.g. every gun is registered, gun training must meet a regulated minimum, and the ability to own a gun is denied people who are mentally ill)?

Guns can’t heal people.  People heal people.  The one that gets me most is that there apparently is this notion out there that learning to handle a gun will make you a better person and a better citizen.   The mother of the Newton, CT shooter used guns to bond with her son, who she seemed to feel had behavioral issues.  Chris Kyle, an ex-Navy Seal and sniper, was apparently killed this week by a fellow veteran he was counseling… in part, by taking a trip to a shooting range together.   I understand that shared interests are important and that making someone part of a group can help their self esteem and bring them out of their shell.  Don’t people understand that it’s not good sense to put a gun in the hands of some others?

Someone I know had a FB post up this week that said “Talk to me if you want to learn to use a gun.  I will help you buy a gun.  I will help you learn to use a gun.  I will help you obtain parts and ammo.  Help promote gun use in the next generation.”   All I want to say is: “really?!?”.    Putting a gun in someone’s hand is not like learning to fish in order to feed themselves.  Are you going to get to know this person?  Are you going to make sure this person learns good gun safety skills?  Are you going to be there when this person is feeling depressed or angry at his/her spouse?  Are you going to make sure this person isn’t carrying a gun when drunk?   I also want to ask: “how will you feel if you help put a gun in someone’s hand and they use it to commit a crime?”

Responsible gun ownership currently seems to exist as a circle of trust.  Trust us, the gun owners say.  We’ll monitor sales, training, and membership, they say.  We should really be unregulated, they say.  The government shouldn’t even collect detailed public health information about gun violence because guns are safe, they say.  It is our right, they say.

That sort of attitude only seems to invite trouble for all of us, I say.

What not to do for breakfast.

Hi there. I know it’s been a while. There are a couple things going on. First off, I’m in the middle of a sprint to finish up a development and testing cycle at work to complete the next version of the product I help create for a living. Aside from all that, a full night of sleep is sometimes pretty hard to come by around there lately. Baby G. is waking up once or twice a night most nights, and waking up upset. He is usually almost crying and not willing to settle down without some time snuggling with Mrs. Geek or myself.

We were puzzled about the cause of this behavior for a good while. Was he having bad dreams? Is having the heater on all night bothering him (it’s been cold)? The probable reason came to light earlier this week when Baby G. and I were sleeping on the sofa from about 12:30-2am. After 3-4 weeks of poor sleep behavior, it’s getting to be second nature to grab the kid and curl up somewhere without really waking up too much. So, Baby G. and I feel asleep on the sofa fairly quickly. We probably would have stayed that way until morning, except Baby G. started thrashing and rolling around at around 2am. When I say thrashing, I mean it: he was between me and the back of the sofa, and he would roll on one side, then the other, then flop over onto my chest, then push himself over me, almost falling head first off the front of the sofa. Whatever is going on with him right now, I think he’s thrashing around in his crib at night and hurting himself on the sides. That causes the crying and the need for a snuggle.

We had a particularly bad early morning on Monday. Baby G. woke up and then just wanted to be awake… for most of the time between 2:30 and 5:30am. He wasn’t being particularly upset or agitated, just awake, and kept both of us up taking shifts with him. I awoke briefly when the alarm went off, long enough to turn it off so everyone could sleep in a little bit. I slept for another 45 minutes and then got up.

Since I was up and both Mrs. Geek and Baby G. were still asleep, I decided to get Baby G.’s breakfast ready. My Mom says that some kids can get dressed and then eat in the morning, but I was the opposite. I needed to eat first thing in the morning because I’d be too grumpy to deal with otherwise. Baby G. is like that too. Breakfast had better be ready sooner rather than later in the morning routine. I decided that it might be a good idea to have breakfast for Baby G. ready when he woke up since he was getting up late. He would be hungry. It should be something he likes.

One of the things that Baby G. likes for breakfast is oatmeal. I often make oatmeal for myself on Saturday mornings. It’s a simple preparation: extra thick rolled oats, cooked in a 2:1 mix of milk and water with a dash of salt and served a little butter and a splash of maple syrup. Being the mooch that he is, Baby G. wanted to try what Dad was eating. Once he did, he demanded more. So I now make Baby G. a small bowl of oatmeal whenever I make it for myself.

Baby G. loved the oatmeal I made for him on Monday. He loved it so much that he had two bowls. That’s where the problem began.

After he filled his first diaper, I was still home and I changed it. It was stinky.

After he filled his second diaper two hour later, his speech therapist (more about this another time) had to bring him out of his office to Mrs. Geek in the waiting room for her to change in a nearby bathroom. Mrs. Geek called me after the therapy appointment to let me know how it went, and to remark that “Gee, it’s odd that he filled a diaper during his appointment.”

After he filled his third diaper two hours later, Mrs. Geek put him down for a nap and called me to ask what it was that he had for breakfast because two poopy diapers in one morning are no fun to change.

After he filled his fourth diaper four hours later, Mrs. Geek called me to say that I was not supposed to feed him that much oatmeal again, ever, unless I was home to do all the diaper changing.

Well ok. Lesson learned.

Native tribal consumers returned from the hunt

This past Saturday was a busy one, with much the day occupied shopping for clothes at a nearby Premium Outlet Mall. I was due for some new clothes; over two years elapsed since my last previous major shopping expedition. Pant cuffs started to fray. Rubber soles (or whatever they are made of now) began to detach from athletic shows. Waistlines no longer fit — I am still 26.5 pounds off my peak weight last October.

Looking back on my shopping habits over the last few decades, I see some patterns emerge, at least where clothes are concerned. Four phases are apparent to me:

  1. Exploration – Back in my late teens and early 20s, I purchased a lot of different styles of clothing, some of it really loud and somewhat tacky (some of the fashions of the late 80’s and early 90’s were definitely “of the moment” and other neo-hippie revivals were classics of youth culture, but sometimes look odd on someone over the age of 30.)
  2. Refinement – I began to get a sense of (what passes for) my own personal style in my mid-to-late 20’s. Brands and styles I liked were identified. My shopping began to become more organized.
  3. Replication – This is where I am now, in my 40’s. I shop for the same kinds of clothing that I have worn for years. I go back to places I have shopped before whenever I can.
  4. Replacement – I have seen my parents go through this more than once; things they want to buy just aren’t available at the moment. So, they are forced to find “new” things to wear that can be found in the current marketplace.

All that said, I have been buying jeans at The G@P for 15+ years now. Has anyone else noticed that they’ve gone slightly insane with their prices? I saw jeans at an outlet store that were listed at $50 on the tag and then discounted 20-40% at the register depending on the style. You get the 40% off if you want Straight or Boot cut jeans, but everything else is only 20% off. I’ve been wearing either “Easy” or “Relaxed” fit jeans for over a decade, and $40 for a pair of new jeans seems a little steep. The Straight cut jeans are too narrow through the thigh on me, and while the Boot cut fit better through the leg, I don’t like the slightly flared look (and I don’t wear cowboy boots.)

the giving tree

Mrs. Geek showed the book The Giving Tree today in a children’s toy store. I’m more than a little strung out today; I didn’t sleep well, I’ve still got the mean reds (or the blues), and one of the largest bills of the year arrived yesterday requiring payment. The book struck me as infinitely sad. In my highly strung state, I almost teared up in the store. I’m kind of tearing up now as I write this.

It can’t help but empathize with the tree. She gives everything. The boy only takes.. and takes… and takes.. until there is nothing left.

Maybe it’s everything else going on in my life, but that seems so incredibly dysfunctional. Is it a parable about abuse of the environment? Or abusive relationships? Or just a warning that there is sadness in the world? I don’t know. Right now though, it makes me very sad.


I’m sorry that I haven’t been updating here more this week. I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’m not sure if it was the blues or the mean reds. It’s made irritable, and left me with very little energy for writing.

What I have been doing is playing with the playlist features of my iPod/iTunes to come up with some new mixes. I find myself getting more and more into doing this. My CD buying habits have tapered off over the years. With a collection numbering about 600, I suspect I may have reached my quota, or it just may be that our new house is causing the CD budget to suffer. I’ve been meaning to write an entry about the half dozen CDs I received/purchased in the first six months of the year. I’ve got to be writing from my computer at home though — the date when I put CDs into iTunes is the only way I can keep track anymore.

Anyway, the latest mix I completed is entitled 4×4+2 (Summer Afternoon). Basically, I was looking for an hour set of music that would set a nice, sunny easygoing summer afternoon kind of vibe. The name comes from the fact that the 18 songs are divided thematically into four groups of four, with an extra two tracks thrown in. Here’s the song list:

Stop This Train – John Mayer
Into The Mystic – Van Morrison
The Very Thought Of You – James Hunter
A Sunday Kind Of Love – Etta James

I call this the R&B group. The John Mayer track starts with an easy going almost lullaby-like vibe that just continues through the next three songs. I wanted to find music that felt like cool water on a warm day; something that could feed a need and cure what ails you.

Two Loves Have I – Nat ‘King’ Cole (with Stuff Smith)
Hot Lunch – The Asylum Street Spankers
Somewhere A Long Time Ago – Pete Anderson
Rag Mama Rag – The Band

This the “fiddle” set; all four songs feature a strong fiddle part. This is a direct response the last mix CD that Harri3tspy sent me. She had fiddles. I have fiddles. The Nat Cole tune makes a nice bridge from the Etta Jamess.

Hell To Pay – Dan Baird
Make Mayan A Hawaiian – Southern Culture On The Skids
Soul For Every Cowboy – Big Head Todd & The Monsters
Lovesong Of The Buzzard – Iron & Wine

This is the “Slow Burn” set. These are all mid-tempo tunes with savoir-faire, mostly by male singer-songwriters. I wanted to add a little intensity to the mix, but you never want too much of that on a warm summer afternoon.

Joy Of My Life – John Fogerty

This is the first of the two added songs. I needed something that would set up a simpler mood, and this does it with slow joyful lyric driven by Fogerty’s dobro playing.

Hopes Too High – Tift Merritt
Good Enough – Sarah McLachlan
One Sweet Love – Sara Bareilles
Lullaby – The Dixie Chicks

The last group of four is composed of women singer-songwriters. There is the mountain clear alt country stylings of Tift Merritt, an old favorite from Sarah McLachlan, a new one from Sara Bareilles (of “Love Song” fame), and a gentle lullaby from The Dixie Chicks.

Forget The Flowers – Wilco

This track got thrown into the mix late in its development and seemed to be a good way to either end on an upbeat note, or bridge back to the first track (if the playlist is on ‘repeat’).